Dear Friends,

As her nervous fingers fumbled for the quarter-sized tin at the bottom of her purse, she prayed it held one last pill. Normally, she stayed as far away from cats as possible, but this guy was worth the merciless attack she’d most certainly suffer without swallowing a pink allergy capsule. She continued digging in her bag. As they climbed the stairs to his studio apartment, she admired the way his jeans fit and the way his dark hair curled where it met his collar.

He was glad he was ahead of her on the stairs. This could be love for him. He didn’t want her to notice the sweat that had collected at his temples. He still hadn’t come clean about his cat. It was no ordinary cat sharing the studio space with him. It was slightly larger. It was a leopard…



I hope you enjoyed my little story…

Thank you. May fantastic felines whisk you off to dreamland…

(leopard rendered in Prisma on construction paper)


The Answer Was in My Bathroom

Dear Friends,
Queen Guenevere is about to burn at the stake. Seconds before raging flames engulf her silken gown, a chivalrous knight astride a white charger gallops in to rescue her. All along, King Arthur secretly prays for Lancelot to slice the ropes binding Guenevere. Arthur doesn’t want her to die. The King’s love for his Queen is far greater than her paramour’s.

We sometimes get lost searching for beyond. We shove away from yesterday, when yesterday wasn’t so bad. Then we get ourselves jammed in today and must wiggle toward tomorrow. Venturing out is fine, but one must be prepared to accept what surprises await on the other side. Often times if we’re patient, things alter course in their own natural time.

Venturing out, I tripped into directionless mode. A day or two off from art, writing and technology served me well. I read an excellent book, Same Kind of Different as Me and had a good cry. I read one more book to further reclaim my happy. Every other page highlighted a memorable quote with deeper sentiments beyond the sports figures who uttered them.This book took the form of, The Bathroom Sports Quiz Book. Please don’t ask me where I was while reading. 😉
Last night I looked at my beautiful family, thanked Above for all I have in this moment, then smacked myself upside the head and got back to doing what it is I do…

“There comes a time in every man’s life and I’ve had plenty of them.” -Casey Stengal, baseball manager

“A good sport has to lose to prove it.” -Anonymous

“Sometimes they write what I say and not what I mean.” -Pedro Guerroro, baseball player

baseball“My greatest strength is that I have no weaknesses.” -John McEnroe, tennis player

“We’ll do all right if we can capitalize on our mistakes.” -Mickey Rivers, baseball player

“Absolute silence, – that’s the only thing a sports writer can quote accurately.” -Bobby Knight, basketball coach

head“They should move first base back a step to eliminate all those close plays.” -John Lowenstein, baseball player

“I’m not allowed to comment on lousy officiating.” -Jim Finks, football G.M.

“I just try to concentrate on concentrating.” -Martina Navratilova, tennis player

“Fear was absolutely necessary. Without it, I would have been scared to death.” Floyd Patterson, former heavyweight boxing champ

runner“We can’t win at home. We can’t win on the road. As a general manager, I just can’t figure out where else to play.” -Pat Williams, basketball G.M.

“A lot of horses get distracted. It’s just human nature.” Nick Zito, winning horse trainer

“If it’s undisputed, what’s all the fighting about?” -George Carlin, referring to term “undisputed champion”

Thank you for your kind patience and uber-gracious comments. I’m honored to know each and every one of you. May you dream of gilded washrooms, heated seats, cool bidets and warm saunas. You all deserve royal bathrooms worthy of Camelot.
-AnnMarie  🙂

The above sports quotes were selected from, The Bathroom Sports Quiz Book (2003), by Jack Kreismer
Pencil sketches done after lunch but before dinner 

I Used to Blog, Now I’m Just Confused

Dear Friends,
PG-13 (mild profanity)

I’ve made a horrible mistake, and now I’ve gotten myself completely confused. It happened after reading too many articles on: How to Increase Blog Traffic. Yes, it’s true. I have an evil plan. I wish to buy groceries using art/writing income rather than my current alternative – substitute teaching. This past school year, every time I walked into a classroom I thought, “AnnMarie, what the heck are you doing? You’re not a teacher, you’ve got a design degree. Besides chocolate and wine, there’s art in your blood. You should be spending 8 hours a day drawing and writing, not speaking over chattering students.”

This is my confused, hapless, helpless face-

baby gorillaWe dream to make a living doing what we love. It’s a lovely dream that can be and is reality for some. Most of us keep going to see where the ‘going’ takes us. According to the Dear Abby’s of Blogworld, the ‘going’ should include twittering, redditing, stumbling, pintresting… I don’t do any of these ‘ing’ things. Perhaps, I should start… I did add the buttons on the bottom of my blog, though I still don’t know what half of them are.

“Commenting…” Some Abby Advisors suggest only commenting on relevant sites. I don’t think this advice is very gracious. I get the whole business model and practical reasons why, but we’re nothing if we aren’t all ‘relevant.’ We should support each other inside and outside of blogworld, regardless of what our “Abouts” say. So this advice I can’t follow.

“Follow Blog Gurus or Bloggers in the Know” Chris Brogan has been labeled a ‘blog god.’ I thought maybe a blog god is just what I need. I visited his site (Chris Brogan) as advised. He seems a decent sort and a doting dad who happens to have a myriad of speaking, writing, publishing and tech credentials. His site has loads of advice, perhaps when my head is emptied, I’ll brave another visit and try digesting some of his suggestions…

“How often to Post?” Let’s see the next piece of advice (most articles suggest blogging 3-5 x’s per week) is the one that tears me down the middle. I really need advice here. I’ve been posting everyday since February 14, 2014. I’ve started taking off weekends. Though my posts are most often text-light they take a bit of time to put together. I often feel they should run at least 2 days. Then I think – no – I should post everyday. Chris Brogan posts everyday and it has been said, “He never runs out of ideas.” I suppose that’s why he is a blog god. I’m leaning toward every other day…not sure…any suggestions would be humbly appreciated…

“Be yourself.” Who else would I be? There is no one more me than me. Is there anyone you know who is more you than you? I can’t write like anyone else but me. If I had a choice to be someone else, I guess I’d prefer smaller feet so when I buy shoes they’re as cute as their petite counterparts usually displayed.

“Observe your stats.” I stuck paintbrushes in my ears during Algebra and never took them out. I can’t look at graphs to figure out what works and what doesn’t. If I started dissecting charts I most definitely wouldn’t be me. I’d be a person who uses statistics or a person who understands them. I’ll just go on posting what I post and let the pie pieces fall where they may.

“Be controversial.” Why?

There are blogs that sometimes put me to shame. So many blogs, from old and young alike – those who suffer with debilitating illnesses, perhaps are dealing with struggling loved ones or who support noble causes…these blogs do more than just inform. In blogworld their stories, their indomitable hearts are transformative. These people fly in perfect form across the blog’s stratosphere…

There are millions of spectacular blogs, but it’s not the digital formats that are amazing (though some designs are super cool) it’s the human beings behind them – fleshy fingertips transporting their outstanding ideas into sharable formats we can enjoy, learn, discuss… When I chat with the many fascinating people I’ve met along the way, it’s the only time I’m sure of why I’m blogging. There is no greater fulfillment then meeting, sharing or conversing with kindred spirits. Blogworld doesn’t judge, we can all join – any age – any sex – any type – any mindset – any talents – we’re all created equal here.

Let’s see where was I, oh yes, I was figuring out how to buy milk and eggs. I think I’m going to let this post linger a few days while gathering my thoughts. I have made several promises this summer: to run with my son in the mornings, to watch Parks and Recreation with my daughter, to spend quality time with my husband, to read down my summer reading list, to create new art, to unslush my slush pile and to maintain friendships – both old and new,

So I’ll keep blogging onward…and hey, you never know, maybe someday I just might sell some art and writing then go to the grocery store 🙂

Best advice ever: “…Line up alphabetically, according to height…”- Casey Stengel

see you in a few days…


Hitchhikers Are Not Wolves

Dear Friends,
Though I’m done with subbing for the year, I drove my kids to school this morning. They generally ride the bus, unless they present a convincing plea. The delicate daughter has perfected the art of pleading. This morning’s plea began last night. She had the Chemistry Regents today and was concerned about AM cafeteria crowding…. The big son’s eighth-grade graduation was also today.

After the AM school drop off, I merrily made my way back home. I was thinking about what to wear for the “Recognition Ceremony” and was hoping I plucked everything in need of plucking. Not fully concentrating, I had to pull my giant vehicle left to avoid a gent walking roadside. If Nair and tweezers hadn’t been invented, we might be related. He was unkempt in appearance. He wore a cap which concealed his eyes. He was quite thin and his shoulders were slumped, but he held his fist erect. His thumb was up and my head was down. Why? Every time I pass a hitchhiker, I picture Stephen King. Then I think – this person is not a wolf…

wolfI often brag how tough I am. My inner-tomboy would whomp anyone bringing discomfort to my loved ones. Why does the little girl in me say, ‘keep driving….’ when she sees a thumb up. I feel tremendous guilt passing hitchhikers by, but I continue to do so. Maybe if the times were different, maybe. Hitchhikers are not wolves…hitchhikers are not wolves…

Thank you and goodnight. May your dreams be protected by Sweet Lobo of Moon Clan.

(This is a detail of a 5′ x 5′ oil painting on canvas, I think I painted this wolf about 6 years ago)

Do Frogs Buy Books?

Dear Friends,
Today, I took my mother-in-law to Barnes & Noble. Along the sidewalk entrance I noticed something odd and a bit sad – a dead frog. I looked around. There was no nearby water source, unless the little frog had stopped by Friday’s for a drink. That might explain his premature demise. Maybe the little guy had a rough night, sipped one to many Mint Grasshoppers and strolled onto the blacktop, bleary-eyed. I hope he wasn’t on his way to purchase, Road Crossing for Dummies.

Once inside B&N, my hip mother-in-law downloaded some new Nook reads. I went the old-timer’s route and purchased a real book, Same Kind of Different as Me, which I’ve already started. Next, we enjoyed over-priced beverages and treats at the Café. Perhaps, the little frog had leapt a long distance and desired a refreshing Mango Smoothie.

Please remember dear friends, the many critters crossing the road this time of year. Turtles may be en route for egg laying,

turtleand little frogs may be trying to get to Barnes & Noble –

blue frog

Thank you and goodnight. May your dreams be filled with twirling turtles and flying frogs…

(both drawings rendered with Prisma pencil on construction paper)

Linus Who?

Dear Friends,

Partial Wikipedia entry: Linus Carl Pauling (February 28, 1901 – August 19, 1994) was an American chemist, biochemist, peace activist, author, and educator. He was one of the most influential chemists in history and ranks among the most important scientists of the 20th century. Pauling was one of the founders of the fields of quantum chemistry and molecular biology.

For his scientific work, Pauling was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954. In 1962, for his peace activism, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This makes him the only person to be awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes. He is one of only four individuals to have won more than one Nobel Prize (the others being Marie Curie, John Bardeen, and Frederick Sanger). Pauling is also one of only two people to be awarded Nobel Prizes in different fields, the other being Marie Curie.”

I have officially entered Mr. Pauling into my gray matter. I pray a tiny brain wrinkle forms so this new info keeps. Well my friends, as we dangle upside down contemplating the meaning of our lives and struggle for our minute of fame, notoriety, security, acknowledgment, validation or a simple pat on the back, perhaps the real measure of greatness is finding one’s face in the dictionary margin.

upside down carolineThank you and goodnight. May you dream of humanity winning the Nobel Peace Prize…

(Sketched this portrait today, beneath the beautiful sun and glorious sky. Cheesy pencil on cheesy paper)

Locked Holy Doors and Worn Tombstones

Dear Friends,
This afternoon the giant husband and I did some weekend running around. On the way home, we passed by a lovely old, shingle-sided church.

pres signBy appearances, it hadn’t held a congregation in quite some time. The front door was locked and bolted – a sad sight for a house where one is supposed to find solace and prayer. The building might even be for sale – sadder still…

door lockedAdjoining this historic structure was an old graveyard.

cem side shot Many of the stones, some going back to the 1700’s, had served hard time. Some had sprouted lichens.

lichensStill others surfaces were so worn the names and dates were no longer readable.

brown lichensSome stones rested on one another for support, clinging to the last vestiges of their earthen anchors.

3 overThere was a beautiful tree, its powerful branches watching over and protecting its wards.

tree & stonesIt continues cherishing thousands of secrets and keeping whispers safe.

tree with monuOver the years, I’ve passed by many houses of worship. Their doors locked when services are not underway. I’ve passed by ancient cemeteries too, some a bit neglected.
In times of real need, we alone must bow our heads to dream of hope, pray for peace and hold onto our loved ones as long as possible on this earth…

vwThis post is dedicated to Phyllis Rose who lost her battle with cancer on Friday night. My mom told me of Phyllis’s passing. She was 53. I hadn’t seen Phyllis Rose since I was in my teens. On Friday night, I was worrying about getting the grocery shopping done…life is…
Thank you and goodnight. May your dreams be peaceful and your wishes all come true…

(Sketched the day of this post. This is my handsome nephew, VW. Image inspired by my sister Dolores’s photo)


Turning To Do’s into Ta Da’s

Dear Friends,
Summer break is so close I can taste it like a yummy cone from the Good Humor truck, June 1970. As is my habit, I’ve created an ambitious To-Do List with an equally obnoxious goal of early September. Ten weeks to accomplish twelve things.

list I wish I still believed in a 365 day summer break. When I was much younger and a little dumber than today, I thought we went to school for a year then enjoyed a year-long summer break. In my youth, the hot summer days seemed endless, each one melting into the next. The neighborhood kids were outside practically at sunup. A good kickball or baseball game could always be had. We youngsters weren’t permitted back into our homes until the streetlights came on. In my head these wondrous, slow summer days added up to a year – an easy mistake to make. Imagine my horror upon discovering school break was but ten weeks long.

I’m grownup now. I attempt tackling summer To-Do Lists like I do mural painting – one wall at a time. If I have to paint an ocean scene, I’ll run back and forth really fast before the latex paint dries…
First wall and first rule, always begin at the beginning-

paratroopersSame wall opposite end, start high-

heli big 2Coming down below the chopper, end low-

below chopper 2Adjoining wall, leap to next-
Vmural detail2Work down, here they come over Hummer Hill-
Vmural detail4And zero in on details. One last closeup of a bedroom whose little boy collected G.I. Joe action figures.

hummer close Personally, I like horses on walls-

spiritToday I’d vote for the One Year On, One Year Off – School Plan. If I had a year off, I’m practically certain I’d turn my To Do’s into Ta Da’s. Wouldn’t you guys vote the same?

Thank you and goodnight. Here’s to dreaming of accomplishments, both real and imagined…

(I painted all murals with good old latex paint and some enamels. Sorry image quality not great, these are photos of photos. The delicate daughter and big son – years ago, standing in front of  “Spirit” (from the movie) inspired mural. Today Spirit’s mural remains in the big son’s room, as he is very sentimental.)

ALL is Not Divisible by Two

Dear Friends,
Sixteen short years ago, I left my career. It was a surprise even to me. I had planned on working right through the whole mom thing. Why not? I could multitask with the best of them. I had color-coding down to a science. I was not only a list maker, I was a List Master.

corp galGo ahead, throw in that new baby ’cause there was nothing I couldn’t do. Besides, all the women I worked with returned after having babies so would I. I adored my career. I loved walking into my big office, (though I didn’t appreciate the kitchenette location if someone was microwaving broccoli). Creating 4/C textbooks and their ancillary components required a small planet of talented people. My staff was terrific and I had a fabulous administrative assistant. After months of arduous work, I always loved having a tangible product to shove proudly into someone’s hands.

coverinside credit pageI only knew how to do my job one way – ALL. I worked many hours often and always. It was how my parents raised me. You give your ALL so ALL was what I gave. I was Atlas – the weight of the publishing planet upon my back.

ball backEight months after the delicate daughter entered my autobiography, I gave notice. I only knew ALL and ALL was not divisible by two. For many months afterward I color-coded toy baskets, made infinite to-do-lists and wrote about a little alien in my house…

Thank you and goodnight. May your dreams be weightless and pain-free this evening…

(I rendered fashion gal in pen and ink, ball on back girl is pencil, Prentice Hall cover design and interior design by me. Skeletal System in Motion cover illustration by the talented illustrator: Keith Kasnot )

The Middle Kingdom

Dear Friends,
Today, I mistakenly left the Jonathan Tropper book I was reading at home. So for some light lunch reading I grabbed an Ancient Civilization textbook from the room I was subbing in. Since my mind has been on the Far East, I opened to Ancient China. I’d read this chapter before but hadn’t thought beyond the 12-point Times Roman.

Through no fault of their own and perhaps a tad bit of ego, the ancient Chinese believed they were nearly alone in the world. There was no possibility of other powerful civilizations like the Egyptians, Romans or Greeks existing beyond the seas and mountains that cut them off from the rest of the planet. Convinced they were the center of the universe, the Ancient Chinese called themselves the Middle Kingdom. Funny, don’t many of us think this way? If we don’t extend ourselves, we too believe we are the center of our universe.

I like the idea of a Middle Kingdom. I wonder what the characters – cut off from the rest of their world – might look like. I collected some older sketches that could be interesting springboards for, “Monsters in the Middle.” Hey, isn’t that already a show?
This gal might be a protector of a crystal cradle –


This guy could be a water/sand creature-

dolphin bodyAnd of course there would be other creatures dwelling mountainside, possibly deep within caves-

big eyes
Thank you and goodnight. May your dreams be filled with gentle space creatures…